tv [untitled] June 21, 2013 6:30pm-7:01pm PDT
lazarus, the decision is 4-0. >> i would like to take a short ten > >> welcome back to the june 19, 2013 meeting of the san francisco board of appeals. we are now ready to call item no. 8. gerald and dale sullivan versus department of public works bureau of aura ban forestry. this is the order to approve removal of one smaller
tree and deny removal of one larger tree. you have seven minutes. >> thank you. good evening. madam president and board members. we would like to take this time to dispute the ruling of the january 28 hearing that allowed the one tree to remain and the other one out. they earmarked the removal and the protest of hearing vowing for one tree to stay. we have dealt with these trees for 25 years. the property we own is on the corner of union street. in the packet you will see pictures of overhanging branches. the one tree is probably 65-75 feet
tall. i would like to show you the corner property with the over hang and look down the street you can see the size of the tree and the overhang. it's also interfering with the street light in the corner. the trees are earmarked by the dwp as being unstable and not in good health an that's why they earmarked them for removal. the next slide i have here is the episodes i have here in june of 2010. the majority of the tree fell. you can see the condition of the center core of the tree. this tree really unbalanced itself with the removal of this large portion. >> is that the big tree or smaller one, the one at issue?
>> the one they want to have remain. the one we are talking about now. the little one is going any way but you can see it almost when it hit the building across the street. the bad picture on this site here where it hit a truck on the other side. fortunately a person has just vacated a parking spot and this tree came downright in that spot. over the years, i will say the city has been lucky. nobody has been injured by this tree, although our property has been damaged. the roof has been damaged, guters have been damaged, sidewalks have had to be replaced. but of greater concern to us in this slide here you see as a matter of reference, the shoe for the raising of the sidewalk, one of the tenants in our building is
handicapped needs a walker and normally parks his car in virginia street. parking in the city is very limited. he can not now navigate his walker and has to rely on parking where he can get it. along the foundation line is our major concern. as a property owner, you can see where the sidewalk is raised along the foundation line. the roots are migrating under the building. they are putting pressure on the foundation of the building as exhibited by the raising of the flags right at the foundation line. but worse than that, all the plumbing with the three units runs on the slab starting at the back end of union street and exits at bonview street. if this plumbing is damaged or
becomes unusable. this is a resident controlled unit. we are obligated as landlords to relocate the tenants at our expense a per diem of $275 a day for each unit for 20 days. that's in the neighborhood of $15-20,000. to remove it and repair the slab, i would get it would be $35,000. this could be done -- away with with the roots being done with. we have asked for the tree to be removed and have been denied. i would like to leave one thought in your mind if any of you board members owned this property, would you feel complacent about leaving that
tree in place. i will leave you with that. thank you. >> thank you. >> good evening, carla short department of public works. i think that we are in agreement with some of the issues raised by the appellant here. certainly we have acknowledged the street has caused some sidewalk damage and it's the city's responsibility to fix that and we would need to expand the tree and probably need to do some slight heathing of the sidewalk that would correct and lift the sidewalk so it will be flat but it might be some heathing because it's not a tree that tolerates a lot of roots. it
could be cut to the foundation area which we would hope would then mitigate that issue if there are roots going underneath the house. one of the things that the department generally tries to do is to base on existing conditions and not possible damage that a tree might cause because different species react differently. foil factors that can affect what may or may not happen in the future so we don't generally condemn a tree because it's capable of doing some damage. there is no perfect tree. i do want to clarify that we did not determine the tree was unstable in our assessment. we did initially approve this tree for removal at the level because the property owners had repeatedly raised concerns about the tree. we have been monitoring it and it did lose a
large limb and we thought it was reasonable for the staff to prove for removal. however there were a number of people that came to speak about the tree and how they were attached to that tree in particular so it was the recommendation at the hearing that we should retain that tree, make the repairs around it and prune it and then continue to monitor it which is what we had been doing previously. so, i just want to clarify that while we certainly action that the tree has has issues, it did lose a large limb and there is some substantial sidewalk damage that needs to be addressed. it's not an imminent hazard and we did determine that the tree was not in stable. >> the foundation, that was raised as a concern, when you talk about cutting, you said
cutting. i don't have a total image but it's very rough and we get the roots and we go in there and untdz underneath the foundation is that what happens? >> yes, when a sidewalk is repaired, if we can't expand the basin, we do that anyway. if it's something that has to be done judiciously with understanding the tolerance for the roots. the closer you cut the roots to the trunk of the tree, the more impact it could have on the stability. we would not cut roots immediately to the trunk of the tree, but when it's removed for repairs, the immediate roots can be severed at that point. >> it doesn't look like there is a lot of structure to that.
>> so there is roughly eight feet between the tree basin. >> okay. just the perspective on the photograph. it looked like it was only 4 feet. it didn't look like a lot of space there. >> yeah, it looks like it maybe set in a little bit. maybe 6, not 8. the measurement that i have. 12 feet and 4 x 4. >> okay. is there a time table for making these repairs if that's what the decision is? >> as has been stated the other tree has been approved for removal. we were waiting for this appeal. if we are moving trees we would like to do it simultaneously. we have no more sidewalk repair funds. they have been spent for this fiscal year. we would try to
coordinate the removal of the one tree and the repair of the sidewalks and we would do that for early next fiscal year which is july 1. >> looking at exhibit is there not a curb on the street side? the picture looks like there is not and the other question, evident 33 , the sidewalk has been damaged for a while. why wasn't it been repaired? >> i think you are right, the curb has been damaged in this location. i don't have a photo specifically of the curb with me, the tree has also out grown as you can see from that photo, the basin itself. so it is very large for the existing tree well. why the repairs haven't been made is a matter of
resources. our annual allocation for sidewalk repairs for streets is about $700,000 annually an we have over 5,000 sites that need repair. >> i got a notice of sidewalk repair analyzed -- and they did the repair. >> when the property owner gets the notice to repair the sidewalk, we also issue a notice by our sister agency and we prioritize based on degree of damage, amount of pedestrian activity, proximity to bus zones and things like that. >> the other question, since the limb was removed in 2010, maybe it's the photo or angle in which it was taken. the tree looks one-sided and one-sided towards the actual property.
this is a very large tree. that appears to be if the tree is healthy is one thing, but from the pictures i'm looking at, the tree doesn't look very healthy and it's one-sided an it's facing the property. >> if i can have the overhead i will put up a photo that does show. if you are looking the end tiert of the canopy, it's not so unbalanced. you can see there is a canopy on both sides. so, again, we don't dispute that the tree has some issues. that's why we approved it at the staff level. the directors department was the neighborhood outreach and the neighborhood concern. we didn't classify it as a main hazard. if we did we would have fought
to have it removed at the hearing. >> if there were issues with sewage and plumbing and it caused the scenario thatwas described with having to move people out with repairs, is that all the city's liability? >> i am not an attorney and i'm not with the city claims office. i will say that it is the department's perspective that in most cases if tree roots are getting into sewer lines is because the sewer line is leaking or degraded. roots don't act like bow a constrictors. generally the city does not pay for sewer damage, however if there is damage documented by tree
roots, the city does pay for claims in those instances. >> if someone trips, is it the property owners responsibility or the city's responsibility. >> when we have the responsibility for the tree, we have the responsibility for that damage as well and the liability. >> thank you. >> the shaping of that tree is kind of unusual for the species, isn't it? >> it's big and old, so i think the canopy is broader thaen often you see for the species. >> who handled the hearing? it's not the director, right? >> no, there is a hearing officer. a number of representatives that attend the hearing and make final recommendations and the director makes that decision base on their recommendations.
did you want the name? >> no. >> thank you. >> is there any public comment on this item? seeing no public comment we can start with our rebuttal with the appellant. >> sir, you didn't identify yourself to the board, are you mr. sullivan? >> i'm gerald sullivan. i have no problem with the department of public works. in the past years, 1994, the flags were replaced. we asked the roots be terminated and they said they would not repair the roots. if i understood you correctly you were doing some cutting of the roots? sorry. as i understand
they were going to terminate some of the roots. it seems to be a little late to be doing that when it should have been done in 1994 when we first asked this question. i have been in the construction business for 50 years. roots do a lot of damage to underground electrical, plumbing, whatever is under there. they move it. now, when move it, water is going to come out. that makes the roots gravitate towards it. but the amount of pressure that these roots put under a foundation and i have no direct technical numbers they give you, but they move things. they cause the damage. i have seen it and i'm afraid it's happening here. that's our major concern. and the overhanging of these branches. we have a tenant in the top floor who like in a night when
it's windy is very apprehensive. he states he's very uncomfortable with these branches. over the years dwp has said they are going maintain these trees and they don't. their intentions are good. they have monetary problems. but i think the city has a responsibility to protect taxpayers property. that's our concern that our property as well as the public's safety, people walking on the street, pedestrians, traffic could all be impacted by this tree. it is out of balance. it is leaning towards our property. and eucalyptus trees are known to come out of the ground. i have seen it happen in other properties. i'm just hoping
that some common sense prevails here to get these trees removed. plant a smaller tree there, plant something more suitable for the area. thank you. >> miss short? >> thank you, carla short department of public works. i will define that root trim shooting be done carefully and judiciously with acknowledging the species. generally we try to avoid it if we can entirely, but in a case like this if there is roots that are adjacent to the foundation of the house when we made this repair, we can sever the roots at that point. >> so, typically there is a discussion about replacement
trees. so smaller trees that is being removed is it being replaced by the city with another tree? >> yes. >> has there ever been a discussion about a replacement tree to be some resolution around this particular one? in the past when you have presented and people have had different opinions about whether trees stay or go, is there a discussion about what a replacement tree should look like, has there been discussion about that? >> there has not. >> the other question i had about the canopy, it did look more balanced on the picture you showed us. has there been pruning done? >> there has not been any pruning. we'll remove the trees
pending on this outcome of this hearing. >> at the time the tree fell, it looked pretty severe. do you know much about the circumstances how it happened, why it happened? >> i don't. it was a large limb that failed. there was some evidence that there may have been some decay in the limb, but i don't know, it was at night. i don't know beyond that, the circumstances. >> okay. >> miss short, your resources are extremely limited as you indicated. is there an option should somebody be on that list of trees to be removed on your list. can the property owners undertake it? without waiting to be in line? >> if they were granted -- yeah. if the tree were an
approved for removal, yes, but they would still have to go through the public notification process which in this case we did approve the tree for removal and it was the public appeal that led us to the departmental hearing. >> there is nothing to prevent a private citizen to go ahead and pay for the removal. >> that's not the issue. >> it's an entirely different question? >> correct. >> okay. thank you. >> you say people who came to the hearing and wanted the tree maintained. do you remember? >> our findings say there were three, they must have been very vocal, but in my memory there were more. there was an additional letter of protest as well. >> i don't think any of the supporters of the tree submitted anything for this
hearing. >> no, and we do -- well we don't notify, the board notifies the public of appeal before the board. so i wouldn't have record on who was notified for that. >> it's very typical when a tree is removed it's standard that organizations automatically send in an objection. >> i will note that in response to that, the people who attended the hearing were from the neighborhood. >> so commissioner fung and i were having a side discussion. sorry about that. the waiting list, the 5,000 are for sidewalk maintenance and removal? >> that's for sidewalk repairs, not for removal. >> that's why i was confused with your question. >> certainly the timing of the
removal e depends on the condition of the tree. >> how many sites are on your list for removal? >> i don't have that. >> okay. thank you. >> commissioners, the matter is submitted. >> i think this is a perfect -- i'm sorry. >> let commissioner honda start. >> i love trees, in fact just drove to sequoia this weekend to see the general sherman tree. but this tree evidently has it's larger than the space and you can clearly see that in the photographs and even if you look at the other additional pictures which makes it look
like an even canopy, it's not, there is two-thirds of the tree is definitely hanging on the side of the property address and the side that looks like that's failed, the limb that failed, failed on the opposite side. if they are going to prune the roots which is very difficult already, then you are making a tree that is not so healthy and maybe even more unstable. so, i would vote to have the tree removed. and they are going replace it with another tree. because the resources are limited already and after they repair the sidewalk, it's going to need repair again. that's been proven time and again. how many years have they gone without
repairing that? i'm sure someone on a skateboard or someone on a walker is a huge liability for the city. >> i think this is an example, i won't use perfect, but it's an example for renewal. i think our urban force is for renewal. i will use it. >> i actually would like to ask miss short another question. sorry. in terms of cost benefit, when thinking about the resources of the city and your department in particular for purposes of repairing sidewalk versus removing something that is obviously damaged, the sidewalks will continue to in some form require some maintenance. how do you weigh those cost? if taking aside a minute the health of the tree, the
imminent hazard, taking that aside. just dollars in cost? >> carla short, department of public works. generally we don't take away those other factors because larger trees provide more benefit to the city in terms of their environmental services. so when we are looking at, it's true we have limited resources and obviously, repairing a sidewalk more than once may seem as though it's not worth it with the cost, but if you look at that means maturization of a tree and then with community concerns which was the deciding fact or in this case. >> okay. good answer. >> all right. the commissioners who have already spoken.
>> i just want to say for the record that this is very difficult. i don't live close enough to require a recusal but i am in that neighborhood and i do appreciate those trees. so that tree in particular, i don't have any particular relationship to it. but the way it an appears on that block and it does create the types of benefits that miss short just described that is hard to put a price tag on. in looking at the challenges that are faced by the property owner, the appellant here, i think there is value added to having such a beautiful tree next to your property for it's value in fact. so, those are just my thoughts. i know it appears,
it would require four for returning. i think we are going to have to continue this because i'm not prepared to vote for removal for striking the department's position. so our process here is such that if it appears that the missing commissioners vote will make a difference. in this case you will. we have three that have an inclination to over turn the department's decision to deny removal. i have indicated an inclination to sustain the department. commissioner hurtado's vote will make a difference. we are going to continue this based on that practice. >> okay. i know you need to suggest a date. i didn't know if the department had any
concerns about attending meetings in the short-term. >> in the short-term, no pun intended. >> i am leaving for vacation tomorrow. >> next meeting is july 10th. >> i will fly back july 10th, but i won't be here on time. if the 17th works, that will be good for me. >> c'mon up to the microphone. >> i'm not quite understanding on what you have ruled on. >> we haven't. let me be a little clear here. if anybody wants to help me out. >> i don't understand why you